Thursday, May 19, 2011, Goodwin Liu was defeated in the U.S. Senate by a bi-partisan filibuster. Senate rules require 60 votes to break a filibuster. It wasn’t even close – the majority garnered only 52 votes. It was a historic day for judicial renewal.
Despite the significance of the vote on Thursday, perhaps the most significant and least noted fact of the entire debate took place the night before the vote when Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor to make the case for Liu’s confirmation. Reid argued that Liu should be confirmed as a law maker because of his incredible intellect. No joke. Harry Reid actually said that Liu should be confirmed as a lawmaker. Here’s Reid’s direct quote: “The court of appeals is where law is made, and we need the finest minds in the world for that.” (Emphasis added.)
Someone please take a few pocket copies of the Constitution to Senator Reid and his team of speechwriters – and please highlight Article I, Section 1, which states: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” The Constitution is very clear: law is made by lawmakers in the legislative branch of government. This is discussed at length in Article I. The Constitution is also clear that “cases” are decided by judges in the judicial branch of government. This is of course discussed at length in Article III of the Constitution. Senator Reid’s errant belief that law is made in courts is not only incorrect, but it threatens the big idea of American government: that all laws are made by the People and their elected representatives. (Article I, Section 1.) This point was echoed by Lincoln at Gettysburg, when he referred to our government as being “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Liu’s defeat is significant for many reasons, but two really stick out. First, America prevented the confirmation of what would have been a very dangerous judicial activist. Second, America took back ground for judicial renewal by defeating the philosophical argument that judges are lawmakers.
Today is a great day to thank God for a victory for judicial renewal. And while we’re at it – let’s pray that judges – one heart at a time – will continue to forsake legislating from the bench and will return to their noble role of deciding cases according to the laws of the land.
And finally, please thank the brave Senators (and their staffs) who opposed Liu and made this historic vote possible.